What is a User Story?

Today we’ll be going over the basics of one of the most important tools a product manager can have. A user story is part of the agile methodology and communicates a product requirement in an easy-to-understand way. As opposed to traditional specs that group product requirements into a giant list, user stories are short and sweet descriptions of features written from the perspective of the person who wants the new feature or capability.

As a result, user stories shift the focus from just writing out requirements to having a more human conversation around the feature. This is especially important because the end user experience is of tantamount importance to a successful product today, so writing from the point of view of a customer, for instance, helps everyone on the team to visualize how that feature will specifically impact that customer.

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Product Manager Weekly Reading #9

Every week, we curate some of the best product reads and post links to help you and your team build great products!

1) Before You Plan Your Product Roadmap

The team behind Intercom breaks down how you audit a feature to ensure you’re not polishing a feature that your users don’t care about.

2) 6 Ways to Uncover What’s Confusing Your Website Visitors and Dragging Conversions Down

Morgan Brown, Head of Growth at Qualaroo, shows 6 ways to uncover visitor confusion and improve your website performance.

3) How Important is UX to your Product’s Growth

Sean Ellis, CEO of Qualaroo, discusses the importance of UX to turn natural use of your product into growth levers.

4) Product Psychology: A Course on User Behavior

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What is a Product Roadmap?

Think back to the last trip you ever planned. You may have sat down, opened up a Google Doc or Excel sheet, jotted down some high level plans or destinations that you knew for sure you wanted to visit, written down dates, did some research, and then reshuffled/added/deleted some items based on the research you did. If you’ve ever gone through this or a similar process, then you’ve embarked on a roadmap journey with the goal of outlining your plans over an upcoming period.

 

Just like anything else you’ve planned in your life, a product roadmap should help describe a path from your current status to where you want to be down the road. While different companies / teams have different timelines, a product roadmap can span anywhere from 3 month to 24 month views of major feature sets/functionality that are planned for a product. Realistically, no one can ever anticipate delays / bugs or changes in deadlines so features that you definitely plan to complete should be located within the 3-6 month timeframe (at my current company, we plan out 3-6 months and re-evaluate the product roadmap every month to make sure we are on the right track based on knowledge gained from each additional month).

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Product Management at a Large Company

Product management is such a broad field, with opportunities in companies of all shapes and sizes. I recently came across an excellent post about PMing at start-ups vs. PMing at large companies, and I wanted to share my own perspective, based on the points mentioned, on PMing at a large company.

Large Companies

I think it’s very fair to say that larger companies, especially public companies, tend to focus on growing what is already successful. When there are quarterly targets, investor pressure, and lots of eyes from supporters and competitors alike, there’s little room for error and these companies will very naturally minimize risk and continue going after tried and true approaches.

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Product Manager Weekly Reading #8

Every week, we curate some of the best product reads and post links to help you and your team build great products!

1) Good UI

GoodUI lays out a running list of user interface ideas that help increase ease of use and conversion rates.

2) Using Text Messages to Retain Users

KISSmetrics lays out the process of sending texts to opted-in users to better retain them.

3) Balancing Product UX and Lean Execution

UXPin discusses the best way to keep UX as a goal at every step of design and development even when you are focused on getting a product into users hands.

4) What Makes a Great Product Manager?

ProductHunt asks 10 product pros in the community to weigh in on what it takes to be a great product manager.

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4 Recruiting Tips for Aspiring Product Managers

Last week I had the opportunity to return to my alma mater to help out with campus recruiting. It was both humbling and eye-opening to realize that I was now on the other side of things – I’d originally gotten my product management internship (which led to my full-time PM offer) at that same job fair!

While entry-level product management roles tend to be harder to find, in recent years more and more companies are offering these positions. Better yet, these PM opportunities are not just at college job fairs, they’re becoming more prevalent at other career fairs and recruiting events as well.

In this post I’ll go over some tips for aspiring product managers, based on my personal experience interacting with people at the job fair who were interested in my company’s PM role. My goal is to identify key factors that set the best candidates apart from the less memorable candidates. A lot of these tips are also best practice for job fairs and recruiting in general, so read on to make sure you have these in your job-hunting arsenal.

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